Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This ‘cake’ was an experiment that went a little wrong, so the final result turned out more like a ‘cheese cake’. However, it took me hours to make so I wasn’t going to chuck it out!

The original recipe came from Dan Lepard’s ‘Pear Mousse Cake’ in his book ‘Short and Sweet’ but can be found on this website too. I liked the sound of this cake as it uses a genoise sponge cake which is lovely and light.

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This cake was intended to be a layered cake using the mousse as a frosting in between layers and around the outside of the cake. You get the mental image? Not exactly how mine turned out! 😦

The cake itself didn’t rise half as much I it was supposed to, but that’s because I added heavy ground sesame seeds to it and the cake wasn’t able to rise. So I only had one layer of sponge to work with and decided to make it into a cheese cake base! Waste not, want not! 🙂

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

I took the cake to the office and shared with colleagues but it wasn’t received very well. I guess because the black sesame flavour is new for most people and quite a savoury flavour so the little amount of sugar in the cake batter didn’t balance so well. The other thing was that the ‘mousse’ didn’t taste of pears! How disappointing! 😦

Despite there being 7 pears in this recipe, the mascarpone and cream completely wiped away the flavour of the pears… The mousse also didn’t set enough to spread onto a cake, so I added extra gelatine to make it more ‘cheese cakey’. Hence the results…

All in all, not a success but it wasn’t bad enough that I had to chuck it straight in the compost bin! Won’t be making that again then…

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

 

 

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Black Sesame and Pear Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Cake: Clandestine Cake Club meet No.3

Black Sesame and Pear Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Cake

This cake club comes around so quickly! But I love it! 😀

My ultimate pastime activity; baking, eating and talking about cake! If this is your first time hearing about the Clandestine Cake Club, you must visit their website and sign up to a local club immediately… This was my third meeting with previous bakes being the Spanish Orange and Almond Cake and the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake.

Clandestine Cake Club Spread

Clandestine Cake Club Spread

The theme of this club meeting was ‘Think Outside the Box’ due to the lovely people of Selfpackaging.com sponsoring the event. When thinking about the type of cake to take along, I was really stuck with the theme. I’m not a fan of making cakes that taste strange and I’m good with sugar paste either… So I decided to go with my favourite or favourite ingredients: Black Sesame! 😀

Black Sesame isn’t widely used in cooking, unless you are Asian! So I thought that it would be a new flavour for most people. (Any excuse to use black sesame! :))

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf Cake

Luckily for me I came across a recipe for Black Sesame and Pear Cake which makes use of pears in a traditionally western way of baking, so it was a good way of introducing the flavour without being too ‘out there’!

What I learnt from this recipe was that it rises quite a bit (mine bubbled right over the sides of the tin all over the oven) and it is very dense so needs a long bake in a lower temperature. I also had to cover the cake part way through cooking with foil as it was browning very quickly.

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf

Due to the long baking time, the edges became quite crisp so I snapped them off. The texture of the crisp sugary top and the moist cake was quite nice.

Pear and Black Sesame Cake

Pear and Black Sesame Cake

This cake went down quite well at the cake club meeting. Several people asked me where they could buy black sesame seeds from. (A good sign that!) There was also very little left at the end of the evening (Good sign number 2!)

It may not be pretty, but it tasted good! I think my forte is for flavour rather than looks in baking… 😀

I also wanted to share with you a couple of highlights of mine from the evening…

Pistachio, Polenta and Elderflower Cake

Pistachio, Polenta and Elderflower Cake (Looks gorgeous doesn’t it?!)

I may be a little biased as this cake was made by my cousin, but how beautiful is this?

Bento Box Cake

Pandan Cake with Lychee Butter cream

This cake was a work of art as well as being delicious! What amazed me was that the baker (Steven) had just bought some flavours that he’s never used before from a Chinese supermarket and baked a cake with it. He also made these adorable pandas out by making marshmallow from scratch! What a legend!

 

 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes to take to a friend’s house as she had invited me for a traditional Ugandan meal. I like to take some cake whenever I visit friends for dinner. Firstly because it means that the dessert is sorted out, and secondly because making the effort to bake is nicer than buying it from a shop! 🙂

So my friend had made some heavy hints that her favourite cake is carrot cake (she basically told me and said ‘hint hint’ afterwards! LOL!) I was intending on making a large cake to share but I ran out of time earlier in the day so decided to make cup cakes to save on baking time.

The recipe I used was one of Mary Berry’s from her cook book ‘Mary Berry’s Baking Bible‘. It’s the carrot cake recipe I always go back to as I always get amazing feedback from people, even those who ‘don’t really like carrot cake’. It’s a very simple ‘all in one’ recipe. I think the secret behind it’s success is the use of mashed ripe bananas, maybe it should be called a Carrot and Banana Cake instead?! 🙂

Carrot Cupcake

Carrot Cupcake

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 50g walnut pieces, chopped
  • 100g carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml sunflower oil

Frosting

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 tps vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs icing sugar
  • walnut halves, for decorating

I used this exact recipe for making the cupcakes and its worked out fine. If making one large cake, then bake for 1 hour at 180 degrees C. I bakes the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes at the same temperature. Cupcakes also cool quicker so I could frost them quite quickly. I’m not a big fan of buttercream frosting for cupcakes, it’s usually far too sweet and really bad for the waistline! So a cream cheese frosting is a great alternative. 😀

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Afghan Cream Rolls

Afghan Cream Rolls

Afghan Cream Rolls

Afghan Cream Rolls with Cherry

Update: Afghan Cream Rolls with Cherry

This recipe is courtesy of Amalkitchen.com who posts the most amazing recipes via videos on YouTube. Her food always looks amazing and really inspires me to try new things. So When I saw this post for the Afghan Cream Rolls I decided to head down to the supermarket to buy the basic ingredients needed; puff pastry and double cream!

We had an Afghan guest visiting over the weekend and I wanted to make a dessert that would be easy but bring the flavours from home. This recipe is similar to ‘cream horns’, fairly straight forward, although a little fiddly!

Check out the video to see how simple this recipe is to make. The basic ingredients are; ready rolled puff pastry, icing sugar, ground cardamom, whipping cream.

Puff Pastry Rolls

Puff Pastry Rolls using make shift foil ‘cones’

The tricky bit of this recipe is using the aluminium foil ‘cones’ to shapes the pastry rolls. As you need to wrap thin pieces of pastry around the cones, and I had made the mistake of flouring the work surface to roll out the pastry a little thinner. This meant that the pastry did not stick to itself well and began to unravel! I also found it a little difficult to get the foil out of the cooked pastry without crushing the delicate cones… 😦

Pastry Rolls

Pastry Rolls

Once the rolls are cooled and the cardamom cream is piped in, the cones hold well. They should be filled just before eating to avoid soggy pastry, but they’ll still be fine after a couple of hours.

Afghan Cream Rolls

Afghan Cream Rolls

One packet of pastry makes quite a few rolls. I’d forgotten to sprinkle icing sugar on mine but I like that they weren’t very sweet! This is a simple dessert to make for when guests come around. Serve as a snack with a cup of tea..

Update

Afghan Cream Rolls with Sour Cherry

Afghan Cream Rolls with Sour Cherry

I tried this recipe again but added some sour cherry jam to the filling, yum! 🙂

Basically follow the recipe as above but use a teaspoon of sour cherry jam inside the cones before piping in the cream. With this addition in mind, there are no end of extra fillings to try! Enjoy… 😀

 

Honeycomb Brownies: Charity Bake Sale

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It’s been a while since I’ve shared some new baking with you all, not because I’ve not been busy in the kitchen but because I’ve been too busy write it up! This is the first of a series of uploads I’m aiming for this weekend…

These brownies were made for a charity bake sale for the British Red Cross. It was Red Cross Week (5th-11th May) and we were trying to raise £1 Million in a week up and down the UK. Most years I bake some goodies to sell in the office to raise a few pennies towards that massive target. This year I decided to make brownies, a straight forward recipe to follow after a long day at work and enjoyed by most people!

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Using this ‘Best Ever Brownies’ recipe, I made the basic brownie mix but hadn’t really thought of what extra flavours to add. So after a rummage around the baking cupboard I found some mini ‘Smarties’ and a tub of chocolate covered honeycomb that I’d bought and forgotten about. I also found some walnuts but decided against them as a lot of people don’t eat nuts and I didn’t want to narrow down my customer base too much! 😉

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It’s a shame that the honeycomb kind of disappeared as it melted but it added a little texture and additional flavour.

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The brownies were sold for £1 each and sold out within a few hours, so obviously very popular! 😀

St Georges Mushrooms

St Georges Mushrooms: Foraging for wild mushrooms

St Georges Mushrooms

St Georges Mushrooms

How do you feel about wild food foraging? I think a lot of people are comfortable with picking wild blackberries or maybe some elderflower. But what about mushrooms?!

Understandably mushroom foraging is a scary thing as there are some deadly mushrooms out there but what if you knew what you were looking for? I went on a food foraging day a couple of years ago and was extremely taken by the idea of mushroom foraging. I love mushrooms and wild mushrooms are especially delicious, but can be difficult to source in local markets.

St Georges Mushrooms

St Georges Mushrooms

Luckily for me these St Georges Mushrooms are readily available on the park outside my house, however it is sometimes a game of Russian roulette trying to ensure you get them before the grass gets cut!

I have a little mushroom foraging guide book to help identify mushrooms but I only really eat these ones as they are so easy to find. I came across this website that gives lots of useful information too.

The best time to pick the mushrooms are in the morning after there has been some rain. They only need to be brushed down or wiped with a damp cloth to clean (make sure they are growing in a spot where there is little chance of contamination!).

To cook, keep it simple to maintain the fresh ‘mushroomy’ flavours! I like to stick to lightly stir-frying them a simple garlic butter and serving on toast (made from home made bread of course!)

Garlic Butter Wild Mushrooms

Garlic Butter Wild Mushrooms

Garlic Butter Wild Mushrooms on Toast

Garlic Butter Wild Mushrooms on Toast

Would you want to try mushroom foraging now? 🙂

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake (Gluten Free and Dairy Free): Clandestine Cake Club meet No. 2

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

I have previously written about the Clandestine Cake Club of which I am a proud member. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, so you can see where this post is going… 🙂

The last time I attended a CCC event, I took the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake and the theme was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. This event theme was: ‘the Great British Bake Off! The ultimate baking-together experience. Whether you choose a recipe from one of the winners or something that was featured on the programme, even if you want to recreate the tent in cake, the choice is yours.’

I have to admit that I didn’t actually go with the theme as I forgot all about it! 🙂 The idea was to spend two hours baking a cake that could then be shared with fellow bakers and their friends/family later on. I loved the idea of spending the afternoon baking with people who love cake as much as I do, sharing tips and learning from each other. This is also one of the main reasons I write a food blog! 🙂

So that takes me to the inspiration for my cake. Wendy at Chez Chloe wrote about this recipe for Orange and Almond Cake, and I was absolutely hooked on the simplicity of the recipe!  The recipe if gluten free and dairy free (if you skip the caramel top!) Check out Wendy’s post for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare this cake.

With only having 2 hours to bake and decorate a cake, I wanted to go with something very simple but delivers on flavour too. The idea for the additional almond caramel top came from a pear and almond cake that I’ve had in a local coffee shop called ‘Teacup’. I generally love caramel and thought it would be a nice decorative feature that doesn’t rely on the cake being cooled before it can be added on.

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

So here is how it was done:

Step one: Prepare the cake as Wendy suggests- I used one less egg and an 18″ round loose bottom cake tin. However this meant that the cake took a lot longer to bake, so I would suggest a 23″ round tin.

Step two: While the cake is baking make a basic caramel by simmering 125g butter, 125g butter, 50ml milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it is smooth and a deep caramel colour. Mix in 150g toasted almond flakes.

Step three: When the cake is cooked through, pour all the almond caramel mix on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Almond Caramel Topping

Almond Caramel Topping

The cake should be served slightly warm, with a little cream if that takes your fancy! I think we could have done with letting it cool a little before cutting into it, however the extra baking time and hungry cake fans meant that this just wasn’t an option! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

The cake was super moist and the slightly bitter caramel topping did a great job of seeping into the top of the cake to create a lovely balance of flavours. Check out Helena’s official write up of the event!

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the amazing Sean from ‘Cook Manchester’ who provide fully equipped professional kitchen hire for small businesses. I had a good chat with Sean about his business and the kinds of people who have used the facilities. He’s a really inspiring guy who is passionate about  food and helping others to realise their dreams of starting their own food business. Please check out the website and share with friends who may be interested in finding out more about the facilities.

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

 

CCC-Bake Along

CCC-Bake Along